the no guilt holiday mantra for moms

(just because sometimes, well sometimes those holidays bring guilt.)

Easter is just days away.

I go into Target and it’s like Christmas there now. Toys and candy and presents and flowers and stuff everywhere. My kids go into Target and they’re like what are we going to get for Easter? As I looked at the pastels and puffy bunnies and little bags of toys stuffed in a rack and grass that I always buy and then regret buying I was thinking this:

Get for Easter?

Notice I emphasized the word get in that sentence.


What do you mean, Elijah? 

That’s what I asked him.

And he talked about the candy. Not all the stuff advertised in the toy section or the new clothes or stuffed plush bunnies that we find on driveways everywhere for sale at 50cents because we’re trying to declutter and the plush items are always the first to go. And last to be sold. Those plush manufacturers have it made….

The stuff honestly causes me stress. Like great tremendous want to pull my hair out stress.

Holidays cause me stress too.

Especially ones that culture has decided has getting stuff attached to them.

That must be one of the reasons I love 4th of July so much – we just sit on an old blanket on the side of the hill in northern Minnesota and watch fireworks shot off over the lake. Oh, we get Dairy Queen, but there’s nothing else. I suppose there’s the new expectation of flag shirts or all of that – oh yeah, I see them at Target, but I figure throw on a red, white or blue shirt and the words of you’ll be good are told to my kiddos.

You’ll be good.


That’s kind of my motto, my mantra, regarding the holidays.

I think we all have to find our balance in there.

This isn’t an article judging or expecting of others to not love the holidays or to do all the stuff. In fact, I think, if that’s what you love then go for it and make it awesome and be awesome and have fun. And it’s not guilt for those who don’t do anything at all for the holidays. And it’s also in there recognizing those of you who really would love to do the cool Easter basket (or insert any holiday expectation) but just don’t have the funds to afford to do it. I know how much that sucks and hurts and can make tears sting the back of your eyes at Target as you try to figure out how to get anything in those baskets for your kids.

I guess I’m writing this to release us all from the holiday guilt.

Sometimes I think these types of moments can pit parents against each other. Or cause comparison or ugliness or feeling of not being enough or stress. Trust me, the second Elijah asked about his basket in Target I felt stress and started counting money in my head.

So here’s what I’m doing.

No extra stuff. One big basket with ridiculously sugar candy and some Peeps. Even though no on in my family really loves them but I still buy them because they’re cheap and then they think they like them and now they’re the sugar high joke of the baskets.

We’ll color eggs.


In fact, for that holiday that seems to matter more to my kids than all the stuff. Which is awesome because they’re on sale for 99cents a dozen and then we have lunch and snack extras for a week.

I think that’s what I want you to remember today.

It’s that these days don’t have to be influenced by anyone else’s decision and that you know your family and you know what matters and your kids will be fine no matter what you choose. I grew up with a basket of candy on Easter morning.  I remember sneaking that candy and throwing away the black licorice jelly beans or secretly trading them with one of my siblings for the good kinds (sorry, Joel).  And I think I turned out half-way normal with just getting a basket full of candy.

Sometimes parenting can be so ridiculously stressful. Especially when we add in these extra moments. You know they’re all there – school pictures in the spring (with the oh-so-fun backgrounds) and holidays and extra-curriculars and vacations and gadgets and stuff – but as we talk about all the time here – that stuff doesn’t make or break childhood. Yes, it makes it more fun and can open up opportunities at times, but the things I remember the most from growing up are moments.

Moments in the garden with my dad (I probably grumbled). Moments sitting at the piano practicing. Moments playing games around the table. Moments outside skating on the pond. Moments.

I couldn’t even tell you what I got in those Easter baskets if I tried beyond the jellybeans and the hollowed cheap chocolate bunny.

But I can tell you that I was loved.

So love your kids. If you’re feeling pressured every time you walk into Target to put stuff in your cart know that you don’t have to. And if you want to go for it all the way and be proud. And you know, sometimes it’s the littlest things that they love most. Like my Samuel. Get him TicTacs and somehow it’s the best day ever. For $1.19.


We each have a journey.

It’s the differences that makes us beautiful as moms.

So no comparison.

And no more guilt when the holidays roll around.

Expectations don’t define.

Do your best, love your kids, and if you want, and feel free to throw the licorice beans out.


ps. and if you like the licorice ones – rock on in your awesomeness (and I’ve got some for you…)

13 Responses to “the no guilt holiday mantra for moms”

  1. April 3, 2015

    Dana Reply

    Love it! We don’t do crazy big holidays here. We just can’t. Plus, it’s not the stuff my kids care about. They care about finding the eggs they dyed and the plastic eggs filled with jelly beans for them to graph…not eat because they don’t really care to eat them. The funny thing is, what I took from this is that you put your eggs on a cooling rack to dry! We are coloring eggs in a bit and I was thinking I wish I had a better way to dry them! So thanks! 🙂

    • April 5, 2015

      Stephanie Reply

      Cooling racks are the best. And sometimes you get happy accidents. Like the year a bunch of them dried funny (mine at the time were the “striped” racks instead of the criss-cross ones) and looked like they had Star Wars TIE Fighters on them. My kids thought I was the coolest mom ever that year.

  2. April 3, 2015

    Jill Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this, and so perfectly stated, too! Honestly, these are my exact feelings about the holidays and expressing them only ends in conflict. My delivery sucks. Yours, superb!! Stuff!! Ugh!

  3. April 3, 2015

    mary Reply

    I so love reading your stuff, omg, you so get it. Reality and honesty at their best. I love being a Mom but boy, some days are tough. Thank your for sharing life as a Mom at its finest, oh, and Happy Easter. Im still making baskets for my girls, ages 25, 20 and 19, still makes me smile, God Bless!
    Love the TicTacs.

  4. April 3, 2015

    Jamie McMillan Reply

    Baby Rabies shared something around Christmas that made my holiday. I want to enjoy baking with my kids but it stresses me out and no one has fun.
    As per BR I got a package of shortbread cookies, a tub of white icing and Christmas colored sprinkles. We “made” cookies. They were delicious and my son had a great time decorating them and it was stress free. It is now my go to holiday activity.

  5. April 4, 2015

    Fran Bracha Reply

    Thank you. Sometimes you just need to be reminded of your own childhood memories to know it’s ok. And the kids will love it as long as you try to make the day special for them. It’s not always about “stuff”!

  6. April 5, 2015

    JMK Reply

    Love this post and all that you’ve posted. I refuse to make Easter about receiving gifts and treats. Growing up, Easter was about spending time with each other and of course, rejoicing that Jesus rose from the dead. Like you, I had a bit of guilt not having anything prepared for my daughter. But that quickly went away. I want her to learn what I learned. That holidays like Easter is about spending quality time with our family. Also having a quiet time to simply reflect together and realize our blessings.

  7. April 6, 2015

    Neen Reply

    you can even start with a container that isn’t a basket but is useful. A pretty plant pot for a kid into gardening. A plastic doll bed/bath for a kid into dolls. Plastic pail and shovel, baking tin, etc. if you want to get fancy, add a couple of themed tools with the candy, especially if they can take the place of plastic grass (dish towels for the pan, face cloths in the doll bath, gardening gloves for the pail,…) add a big ribbon and yiu are brilliant!

    Idea shamelessly stolen from

  8. April 6, 2015

    Tess Reply

    Guilty as charged! My father-in-law came over with an Easter basket filled with candy and a bag full of goodies for all four kiddos. I, on the other hand, bought shoes Friday evening for each of them because, well, they needed shoes. No candy, no plush animals, no pastels, no, no, no! It surprised me because none of the kids asked about an Easter basket. There was no whining around and no mention of the Easter bunny.

    I mean no harm or disrespect to families that do the traditional celebrations. My husband and I are just usually spent and my kids have everything they need.

    • April 8, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      This is what I love – that we all get our own beautiful traditions and we don’t have to feel bound to other traditions because we know our family best.

      Blessings, Tess. 🙂

  9. March 27, 2016

    Jane H. Reply

    This is wisdom, Rachel. I think back to my childhood holidays and to the holidays I have celebrated wihh my kiddos and grandkids. Some were grand, some were pretty sparse but that is not what made some better than others. The hardest ones were when family and friends enjoyed being with each other. When we all stayed around the table tallking, the year the kids got sleeping bags for Christmas and everyone took a long nap. And the hardest holidays were when tempers were short, feelings were hurt and the meanings of the day to our familyrics was completely overlooked. I wish you all the happiest of Easter, joy as you celebrate and for those who are hurting today, I wish peace and comfort. I love you ladies. You are the best.

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